Leaders enact the great Delhi political circus

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Sujay Mehdudia

Party stand ignored, camps changed to take credit for anything that happens on sealing, demolition front

NEW DELHI: The sealing of commercial units in residential areas of the Capital as well as demolition of illegal structures has brought about a complete change in the political equations not only in the Congress but also the Bharatiya Janata Party in Delhi.

Not only are politicians changing colours, but there has also been a race within the two parties to take credit for anything that happens on these two fronts.

Interestingly, what came as a bit of shock and surprise to the Congress leaders on Monday was the sudden appearance of former Union Minister and senior BJP leader Sahib Singh Verma at the relay hunger strike by Congress MLA Kiran Walia at Hauz Khas. Not only did Mr. Verma, whose two-wheeler rally in Outer Delhi got a lukewarm response, land up uninvited at the venue but also gave a speech praising the hunger strike and lashed out at the United Progressive Alliance Government at the Centre for its failure to tackle the issue effectively and save lakhs of families from being displaced.

Mr. Verma's appearance not only embarrassed the Congress leaders and MLAs present there but also the BJP leaders who had no explanation why the senior BJP leader chose to join a protest by the Congress when his own party was undertaking a "Jail Bharo" movement the same day.

"It is indeed intriguing. Hauz Khas does not even fall under the Outer Delhi constituency from where Mr. Verma contests. He should not have gone to a Congress function and that also uninvited as this has sent a signal that the BJP is divided on the issue," said a senior BJP leader.

Political observers are also intrigued by the sudden change of heart on the part of Outer Delhi Congress MP Sajjan Kumar. Known to have close links with DPCC president Ram Babu Sharma, Mr. Kumar has switched sides and once again joined Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's camp. Not only has Mr. Kumar been lavishing praise on the Chief Minister, at a recent public function at SangamVihar he described her as "Vikas Ki Devi" (Goddess of Development), much to the chagrin of Mr. Sharma and his supporters. Similarly, former Transport Minister Pervez Hashmi and former DPCC president Subhash Chopra who were going along with Mr. Ram Babu Sharma, have also decided to chart an independent course, changing equations in the party considerably.

In an interesting development, a considerable chunk of Congress MLAs are slowly and steadily swinging towards Union Minister of State for Urban Development Ajay Maken who has emerged strongly on his own on Delhi's political scene giving a scare to many veteran leaders.

Observers feel that the most interesting tale has been that of former Chief Minister Madan Lal Khurana.

Not only has he been in the forefront of launching a scathing attack on senior BJP leader L.K. Advani, despite repeated denials he has decided to join hands with the expelled BJP leader Uma Bharti whose following in Delhi is highly questionable. He has been supported by some BJP leaders and party MLAs but the Delhi unit has refrained from taking any action against the concerned MLAs. Delhi BJP president

Harsh Vardhan and Leader of the Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Jagdish Mukhi are pulling in different directions despite being part of the same cause.




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